(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Robert Schneider said he was “made to turn wrenches.”

After a career in the military and oil field, Schneider wanted to settle down and looked for a college that offered Automotive Technology. He learned of the Texas State Technical College program and graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in 2018.

Today, Schneider is a main line technician at a Lithia Motors dealership in his hometown of San Angelo.

“It is the highest technician level there is,” he said. “TSTC helped out quite a bit in me being able to achieve this.”

Schneider said he liked to “tinker with stuff” from a young age. He would get in trouble after his parents gave him an electronic toy and he took it apart.

As a student at San Angelo’s Central High School, Schneider learned about the automotive class.

“At first, I was a little iffy. After I took the first-year course, I was hooked and took it again the second year,” he said. “I knew then that I was made to turn wrenches.”

In the U.S. Air Force, Schneider said he worked on the electrical systems of weapons. In the oil field, he learned how motors worked. He combined that knowledge once he began taking classes at TSTC.

“I was getting older and wanted to settle down with my family. I started looking at schools and came across TSTC on the internet,” he said. “All of the dots were lined up, and I started school.”

Schneider said TSTC Automotive Technology instructor Mike Myers helped him by bringing shop experience to the classroom and lab.

“He has a lot of experience,” Schneider said. “He has a wealth of knowledge. I can call him and ask him if he has seen something. He would tell me, ‘No, but have you checked into this?’”

Schneider said having that experience in the lab helped him because classroom lessons and books can go only so far.

“I was amazed at some of the material Mike opened me up to,” he said.

Myers said he keeps in touch with all of his students, especially if they encounter something not covered in class.

“I am a phone call or text message away and will help out any way possible,” Myers said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

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